Chronological order or reverse order?

I had an interesting discussion about something relatively simple, but extremely important today. Is it better to show tickets / email responses in chronological or reverse chronological order? There are essentially two display options, each with their own pros and cons:

  1. Showing the newest replies at the top.
  2. Showing the oldest replies at the top.

The biggest advantage to showing the new replies at the top is that it is easy to see where the ticket/issue is currently and what the customer needs or is asking at the moment. The disadvantage is that scrolling up and then reading down can be very awkward and unnatural. There is also an increased possibility that  employees will not read the early responses and will simply reply to the most recent reply, which is conveniently at the top of the page.

If the oldest replies at the top, reading from top to bottom is more natural. Employees are forced to scroll down and will hopefully see what has been done already and what the customer has asked. The display method is supposed to be more natural, but does require more scrolling and more load time for most issues and most tickets.

I’ve seen both methods used in a variety of helpdesks in a variety of industries. I personally like seeing the oldest replies at the top and reading downwards, but am curious to hear what you have seen and experienced. Which do you think is better? Does it even matter?

2 Responses to “Chronological order or reverse order?”

  1. Gary Sherman said:

    Jan 12, 09 at 5:40 pm

    I prefer most recent at the top, with the ability to easily flip it on the fly.
    For most case (ticket, incident) histories, I typically only care about the most recent stuff. But occasionally, I want to be able to easily start from the beginning.

  2. Julia said:

    Jan 15, 09 at 9:46 am

    I agree with Gary. In our ticketing system, the most recent messages are normally shown on top and you can change it with one click.

    Showing the oldest items on top is important if different agents handle the same ticket. Otherwise, if the same agent takes care of the whole conversation, he/she will probably remember what was going on before and won’t need to re-read all the time. Some tickets can be pretty lenghthy.